Friday, July 29, 2011

Pumps from the Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Pumping water has always been a big activity at the Waterways Experiment Station, the Corps of Engineers research center south of Vicksburg, Mississippi. In the past, most hydraulic models were physical models, meaning they were three-dimensional reproductions of the earth, rivers, and channels through which water was run to test how different engineering works performed.

Over the last decade, the amount of physical modeling done at the station has dropped off greatly because of the high cost of the technicians and equipment. Also, numerical (computer) models can now do many of the simulations more quickly and can test a wide range of options. Therefore, much of the old pump equipment has been surplussed, and some of the hangers have been removed. The scene above shows Pump House 3063 being demolished.

The pump house formerly housed six or seven 200 horsepower pumps that distributed water to the surrounding shelters and to an open-air model of Old River Control. Pipes ran underground to the various shelters, and the return water flowed back to the lake.


This was massive, heavy-duty equipment. The pump house appears in a 1949 aerial photograph of the station, so we can assume the pumps are older. The body of water that served as the reservoir was known as the Supplemental Lake (with Brown's Lake being the "main" lake). Over the years, the lab switched to using city water to reduce fouling from silt and organic debris. The lake now is a healthy habitat for fish, turtles, snakes, and fish. I occasionally see a Belted Kingfisher perched on a pole looking for lunch.


All the pumps were taken away by a metal recycler on May 11, 2006. I heard that he found a buyer for the equipment, so maybe these historic pumps are still at work somewhere.

Photographs taken with a Sony DSC-W7 digital camera.

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